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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs         27  June 2011

Indo government puts controls on sugar

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In an attempt to keep price-depressing imported sugar from flooding the Indonesian market, the government plans to use a single office to monitor shipments of the commodity and distribute it to private companies.

“We want the imported sugar — whether it’s refined, white or raw — to be handled through one door,” State Enterprises Minister Mustafa Abubakar said on Sunday. “We will carry out a meeting with the House of Representatives to discuss sugar imports.”

Mustafa said a one-door policy was needed to control distribution. The trade ministry will appoint state logistics agency Bulog as the sole importer.

Without strict regulation, there are fears the goods will flood the retail market, pushing prices down. There are claims farmers would also suffer losses because they would have to compete on price with imported raw sugar sold to local refiners. Currently eight companies hold importing licenses, and the price of sugar is unregulated.

Sutarto Alimoeso, president director of Bulog said his organization was prepared to handle the task. This year, the government allowed the importation of up to 2.4 million tons of sugar. Industrial demand for refined sugar is estimated to be 2.2 million to 2.3 million tons this year.

“Bulog’s function is to control crop prices and supply,” Sutarto said. “Sugar is a strategic commodity and with this policy we will be able to stabilize price and control distribution.”

Natsir Mansyur, chairman of the Indonesian Association of Flour and Sugar Traders (Apegti), was pessimistic about the government’s plans.

“The industry can absorb only up to 75 percent of the quota, while the rest will leak into the retail market,” Natsir said. “The retail market will absorb it because it is cheap.”


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